To Gatorade or Not to Gatorade?

by Brooke on August 10, 2012

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With all the different types of sports drinks on the market, it can be hard to decide whether to choose a sports drink like Gatorade or just grab water to drink. In most cases, water will meet your hydration needs, and sports drinks shouldn’t be taking the place of your regular water intake. Yes, they still help hydrate you, but the average healthy child, adolescent and adult doesn’t need the extra carbohydrates and calories that comes along with consuming this beverage.

However, consuming sports drinks during exercise lasting more than one hour, can help provide needed energy to hard working muscles and can aid in hydration. Carbohydrates, our main energy source, can be found in sports drinks, like Gatorade. It is recommended for those exercising for one hour or longer to consume between 30-60 grams of carbohydrates to help maintain blood glucose (sugar) levels. Most sports drinks contain about 4-8% of carbohydrates to help meet those needs.

If you are still confused about what to drink and when to drink it below is a simple list to help you determine if you should reach for water or Gatorade.


When to just choose WATER:

– Sitting on the couch

– A three mile run or bike ride

– Sitting at your desk at work

– Studying for the next big exam in a coffee shop or the library


When to Choose a SPORTS DRINK:

– Participating in a sporting event lasting longer than one hour

– Running in an endurance race that lasts longer than one hour

– Exercising in an extreme environment like: serve heat or humidity, cold, or high altitude

– If you are an athlete that has missed or not consumed a quality pre-workout meal to sustain your physical activity

– If you are a wrestler or in another sport where you limit your energy intake prior to a weigh-in, etc


If you still are not sure whether to Gatorade or not just ask!



{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dagny Kight August 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Gatorade was created to enhance the athletic performance of the University of Florida football team so the context for its use is vigorous physical activity. The “need” for sports drinks has been created by marketing but my alma mater has made quite a bit of money off Dr. Robert Cade’s invention! I have used Gatorade when sickness makes it difficult to remain hydrated or eat.


Darci August 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Hi Brooke,
What is the difference between Gatorade and energy gels for long distance running? I’m training for my first half marathon and was curious.


Brooke August 17, 2012 at 2:01 am

Hi Darci,

Either one can provide long distance runners with needed carbohydrates (energy) during a race and/or long run. A sports drink will not only supply energy, but will also help re-hydrate the runner. Since, an energy gel is a concentrated amount of carbohydrates a runner would also need to consume 250 ml of water to avoid increasing dehydration. This is a personal preference and both should be tried out separately during your long runs to determine which one your body tolerates the best. Let me know if you have any more questions!


Darci September 2, 2012 at 1:26 am

Thanks Brooke! I am a fellow Boilermaker and I love your blog. I check it every week!!


jeni August 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

This takes me back to our dietetics classes, Brooker! Sigh, it reminds me of O Wood’s class. I do try to tell these guideliens to Jeff too. I tell him that he should only use Gatorade if he’s in a really hot baseball game vs. a workout at the gym. He doesn’t listen of course, because he’s so thirsty after working out, ha. He usually drinks water throughout his workout and then protein powder mixed in with Gatorade after. Ouch. =( Happy Pre-Birthday!!! Are you going to make your burned brown sugar cake this year? (or whatever it’s called? I don’t remember but it looked TASTY!)


Brooke August 19, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Hi Jeni! Haha…I am glad this blog post reminds you of Mrs. Wood’s classes. Yes, I will be eating Burnt Sugar Cake on my birthday! Thank you for the early birthday wishes!!!


Jessica August 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm

I am 12 weeks pregnant and have been very nauseas for 7 weeks now. Water makes me very I’ll so I have been drinking gatorade. Is it harmful to only drink gatorade? Its so far the only thing I have found that doesn’t make me feel worse!


Brooke September 3, 2013 at 4:32 am

Hi Jessica,

Thank you for leaving a comments and congrats on the baby! No, if you are feeling really nauseous right now and having a hard time eating/drinking the extra calories and electrolytes found in Gatorade will be beneficial for you. However, if you are worried about the amount of sugar you are consuming try mixing four ounces of water with four ounces of Gatorade to dilute it. If you have anymore questions please feel free to ask!


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